The removal of testicles (castration) is routine practice for male livestock including sheep, cattle and some pigs. Castration is performed to reduce aggression, facilitate handling and reduce the risk of injury to people and other animals. Castration is routinely performed on young animals using a blade or rubber ring without the use anaesthetic or pain relief. In pigs, a chemical castration method in the form of a vaccine is used. The RSPCA believes that depending on the method used, castration should be accompanied by pain relief and only performed where there is a clear need. 

For more information on castration of livestock visit the RSPCA knowledgebase.

Land transport of livestock

Western Australia is the only state or territory that has not yet included the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the Land Transport of Livestock in regulations. These Standards and Guidelines are important to ensure a minimum standard of care is applied. For example, the Standards specify the importance of driving in a manner that minimises the impact on the welfare of the livestock, time off water limits and managing livestock during extremely hot or cold weather. As land transport journeys can be very long, it is also important to have plans in place in case of delays, emergencies and sick or injured animals. The RSPCA would like to see these Standards regulated in WA as soon as possible.

For more information see the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the Transport of Livestock.

Livestock handling 

Good livestock handling (stockmanship) is important for the welfare of livestock and can also affect production. Livestock should be moved using handling practices, facilities, equipment and procedures that minimise stress to the animals. All stockpeople should be adequately trained, aware of the Standards and their obligations under the Animal Welfare Act 2002. Good stockmanship requires an understanding of that species’ behaviour and an appreciation for the animals’ needs and requirements. The RSPCA is opposed to the use of handling equipment that is designed to inflict pain or discomfort such as electric shock prodders.  

For more information see the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle and Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep.

Invasive species

Introduced or non-native species which cause economic or environmental harm (invasive species) are a major concern to agricultural industries. Invasive predators, particularly foxes and wild dogs pose a direct threat to the welfare of livestock including free-range poultry and lambs. Other invasive species such as rabbits and feral pigs can influence livestock welfare via pasture damage and acting as reservoirs for disease.  The RSPCA acknowledges that invasive species control is often necessary and important to ensure the welfare of livestock and to protect industry and the environment. However, invasive species are still capable of suffering and relative humaneness of different control methods should be considered. The RSPCA advocates for adherence to the relevant Standards and Guidelines and Codes of Practice and endeavours to work with the relevant agencies to achieve the best possible animal welfare outcomes in invasive species control.

For more information visit the RSPCA knowledgebase